Newt Gingrich was coy about his own presidential intentions at a debate with Howard Dean on the campus of George Washington University last night. But he was quick to weigh in on the intentions of a potential rival in the fields of Iowa and hills of New Hampshire. Ambassador Jon Huntsman is “probably” running for president, Gingrich told TPM after the debate. And he’s going to be a “very formidable” opponent to anyone who’s trying to take on Obama next year.
“He’d certainly be a great addition for the Republican Party,” Gingrich said. “He’s very intelligent.”
But the former House Speaker declined to weigh in on whether or not Hunstman’s moderate past as governor of Utah and position in the Obama administration would cost him with a Republican primary electorate.
“He’s a very smart man, we’ll have to wait and see,” Gingrich said. “That’s what campaigns are for.”Huntsman essentially confirmed his active pursuit of the nomination when he resigned his ambassadorship, ending a period of speculation over whether he would or wouldn’t. Supporters of Hunstman have already begun laying the groundwork for a race, which many expect Huntsman will jump into when he returns to the U.S. in May.
Gingrich has been vague about his own 2012 plans for quite a while now, though many observers expect in the end he will take a run at the White House. In the past, he’s said he’ll make an announcement about a presidential run sometime in the late winter or early spring.
Gingrich said that no matter what he chooses to do, Huntsman will more than likely be a part of the field storming across the primary states in the coming months.